Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft

Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast

Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.

First the facts about ACORN. Months ago, we obtained, as part of our investigation for Rolling Stone magazine, the Republican’s list the GOP alleged were the very worst cases of vote and registration fraud by ACORN and similar groups. We went through the names the GOP asserted were “obviously, undeniably and clearly fraudulent” voter registrations.

First, there was Melissa Tais, a dubious ACORN registrant. Her two voter registration forms show, admittedly, suspiciously different signatures. Republicans suggested Melissa was part of a massive fraud to allow Democrats to vote twice.

They were wrong. Ms. Tais, a Cerrillos, New Mexico, waitress, told us she had signed one form on a table and one form holding the paper in her hand. Hence, a second, wobbly signature.

Then there was Patricia White, who Republicans claimed was a fictitious voter. When we filmed her at home in Albuquerque, she seemed real enough.

And so on, through the entire GOP list — not one fraud. And these were their best cases out of the five million “illegal voters” who Republican leaders claim have infiltrated America’s voting rolls.

The overblown histrionics about ACORN do not surprise those of us who have been watching the RNC’s election manipulation antics. For eight years White House operatives have been trying to gin up press stories about voter fraud. David Iglesias of New Mexico was one of seven U.S. Attorneys fired by the White House for their refusal to bring voter fraud prosecutions. “We took over 100 complaints,” from the GOP, he told us, “We investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case in the entire state of New Mexico.”

Iglesias, a McCain supporter, has, for the first time, leveled a new and serious charge: Despite finding none of the 200 voters guilty, he says the White House nevertheless ordered him to illegally prosecute baseless cases against innocent citizens, just to gin up voter fraud publicity. His refusal, he says, cost him his job. “They were looking for politicized — for improperly politicized US attorneys to file bogus voter fraud cases.”

Certainly ACORN collected some bad signatures. But despite McCain’s claims, now morphed into media theology, none of ACORN’s actions will have any impact on any election. ACORN hired 13,000 canvassers to register new voters. A small number of these workers defrauded ACORN by handing in phony registration forms using names they had invented (e.g. Mickey Mouse), or copied from phone books. In one case ACORN canvassers used cigarettes to bribe a homeless man, now a Fox News regular, to register 17 times. None of these activities constituted voter fraud. It is no crime to register 17 times; only the final registration counts. His multiple registrations would not allow the tobacco lover to vote 17 times. Nor is there any evidence the phone book registrants will cast multiple ballots.

Finally, the removal by GOP officials of hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters from voting rolls over the past year provides ACORN with a sound rationale for obtaining new registrations, even from voters who believe they are already registered.

ACORN took pains to screen its registrations and cull out those it considered dubious. However, federal laws make it a felony for voter registration groups like ACORN to discard registrations even when it believes them fraudulent. So ACORN flagged the forms it considered doubtful and handed them in to the registry. Ironically, it was those flagged forms — the fruits of ACORN’s diligence — that have been flogged by Republicans as their best evidence of widespread election fraud.

Voter fraud is a phantom according to Lorraine Minnite, an expert on voting crime at Columbia University. Only 24 cases of federal voter fraud have been uncovered between 2002 and 2005 despite massive government efforts devoted to uncovering evidence of a voter fraud crime wave.

The GOP is ginning up hysteria about non-existent vote fraud by Democrats in order to distract the press from its own campaign to disenfranchise millions of American voters.

The Republicans have created an obstacle course of barriers designed to suppress the vote, purge tens of thousands of Democratic voters from voting rolls, create mayhem and delay at voting venues on Election Day, and stop millions of votes from being counted this election cycle.

Jailed GOP activist Jack Abramoff and his fellow convict, Congressman Bob Ney, wrote the most sinister provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which Congress passed in 2002 creating a series of diabolically cunning new voting impediments. HAVA, for example, allows state voting officials to purge tens of thousands of voters from the polls using algorithms and voter ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise black, Hispanic and minority voters, and other Democratic demographics including senior citizens and young people.

In 2004, highly organized GOP tacticians helped disenfranchise no less than 2.7 million American voters. Almost a million of them were African Americans. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found black voters were nine times more likely to have their votes discarded than white voters and that over one-third of the million provisional ballots cast in 2004 — ballots handed disproportionately to African Americans — were never counted but simply thrown into dumpsters.

In a technique known as “caging” RNC operatives send millions of first class letters to black voters across the country marked ‘do not forward.’ Republican operatives armed with lists then invade black precincts on Election Day to challenge those voters whose letters were returned to the RNC because the voter was not home to sign when the mail arrived. That tactic deliberately targets black voters, resurrecting Old Dixie’s Jim Crow procedures designed to rid the lists of black voters and create long lines in black precincts.

In this election, new HAVA mandates permit voting officials to precisely match registration form information with the voter’s driver’s license and Social Security application. While it may sound reasonable, in practice, any change, even a dropped hyphen, is cause for eliminating the voter from the rolls. Since 2004, Colorado’s Republican Secretaries of State have purged one out of every five voters from the rolls. The current Secretary of State, Mike Coffman, a Republican also running for office, recently purged an additional 37,000 voters and discarded 6,400 new voter registrations — overwhelmingly Democratic — based upon an obscure technical mistake that Coffman’s office encouraged voters to make in the first place.

The GOP “anti-fraud” campaign resulted in one in nine New Mexico Democratic voters finding their names had disappeared from voter roles during this year’s caucus.

Despite a recent Supreme Court decision upholding Ohio’s refusal to disenfranchise 200,000 legitimate voters based on this absurd demand to “match” voter names to databases, White House operatives are still fighting to purge these names from the rolls. President George Bush last week personally asked his Attorney General Mike Mukasey to renew Republican efforts to disenfranchise these voters.

Contrary to Mr. McCain’s assertions, the real threat to democracy is from the GOP itself. ACORN has served as a good distraction from Republican efforts to steal the vote from hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters, a genuine threat that has received almost no media attention.

They’re stealing your vote, but you can steal it back. Here are some steps you should take to protect your vote. First, avoid the November 4th minefield. Voters, wherever possible, should vote early and in person. Where feasible, avoid mailing in your ballot, many are rejected for flimsy reasons, and first time voters in many states must include a photocopy of ID. However, if you have a mail-in ballot, don’t throw it away. Follow directions, use the correct postage (that’s an error that cost a hundred thousand votes last time) and, if possible, walk it in to your elections office.

At the polling station, should you find yourself one of the 2.7 million purged, or your ID rejected, then do your best to resist a “provisional” ballot–one third of which are not counted. Return with proper ID, or call 1-800-OUR VOTE for legal assistance. And never just walk away discouraged. That’s just what they want you to do.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/10/28-9

McCain-Palin supporter says no treats for Obama kids on Halloween

McCain-Palin supporter says no treats for Obama kids on Halloween

This is sure to win McCain a lot of popularity, but this is the way His voters think” It’s all about US and nobody else

gregor,blog editor comment

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A suburban Detroit woman has decided to scare up the vote among neighborhood children by just offering treats to John McCain supporters.

Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., handed out candy Friday only to those who shared her support for the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate Sarah Palin. Others were turned away empty-handed.

TV station WJBK, Fox 2 News says a sign outside Nagel’s house warned: “No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters.”

Nagel calls Democrat Barack Obama “scary.” When asked about children who were turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: “Oh well. Everybody has a choice.”

There were kids as young as 4 years old that went away crying because she wouldn’t give them any candy.  This is so sad that anyone would do this to a child.

http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/mccain-palin-supporter-says-no-treats-for-obama-kids-on-halloween/

More PCBs found at arsenal site

New environmental testing of property on Arsenal Street in Watertown once used by the Department of Defense to store nuclear waste indicates the land is more contaminated with PCBs than previously believed.

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Consultants for the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the cleanup of the site across Greenough Boulevard from the Charles River, told town officials last week that tests done in July and August found higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls than prior tests had shown.

“That surprised us,” said David E. Heislein, project manager for MACTEC, a consulting firm.

Heislein said the contamination appears to be confined largely to the soil surface. Officials said that may make it easier to eventually remove the polluted dirt and convert the site to parkland.

But the need for futher testing will yet again delay plans to clean up the nearly 12-acre parcel, known as the General Services Administration property, and transfer it to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Corps had initially set a September 2006 deadline for the handover.

The MACTEC study was commissioned after an evaluation completed in 2007 by another consultant hired by the state recreation department found levels of contaminants in different locations and in higher concentrations than the Corps had documented. Those results put an abrupt halt to efforts to transfer the property last fall.

The 2007 study found PCB levels ranging from 2 to 43 parts per million. The latest testing by MACTEC found levels ranging from .06 to 361 parts per million, said Ellen Iorio, project manager for the Corps.

To meet state safety standards for passive recreational use, the soil can contain PCB levels at or below 3 parts per million, said Joanne Dearden of the state Department of Environmental Protection. PCBs pose a public health risk because they are a known carcinogen, she said.

Once federal funding is secured, MACTEC intends to return to the site next spring for more tests to better outline the area of PCB contamination and to make sure it has not entered wetlands on the property. Though there were some slight variations from the state’s results in the amount of heavy metals found in the soil, the firm doesn’t believe it requires more testing, said Heislein.

Determining the extent of the property’s contamination has been a slow-moving process that began in 1989.

From the 1920s to the late 1960s, the property was used by the US Army to store materials and burn depleted uranium in connection with the once-active Watertown Arsenal. The General Services Administration took over the site in 1968, using it for storage and leasing part of the property to the State Police for a firing range.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission deemed the property safe from radioactive refuse in 2003.

The meeting with local officials did not address a major local concern, the presence of four vacant buildings on the property that officials would like to see demolished.

Marylouise McDermott, chairwoman of the Conservation Commission, insisted the 1920s-era lease between the Metropolitan District Commission and the federal government stipulated that the property be returned to the state in its original condition, without the buildings that were added later. “I’m willing to pursue that,” she said.

Testing and removing four abandoned buildings on the property, which contain lead paint and asbestos, will not be part of the Corps cleanup, Iorio said.

The Department of Defense program under which the current work is being conducted precludes work to any part of the site except the land, she said.

“I think we all share this sense that this could go on forever,” said Jonathan Hecht, a member of the Town Council.

Iorio conceded the project has moved “at a snail’s pace” and blamed budget shortfalls and government bureaucracy for the piecemeal progress.

But Councilor Susan Falkoff, who has spent nearly two decades working on Arsenal-related cleanups in town, said she’s not worried.

“It’s more important that it be cleaned thoroughly than quickly.”

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/11/02/more_pcbs_found_at_arsenal_site/

GOP Voter Suppression: More Miss than Hit

GOP Voter Suppression: More Miss than Hit

by Zachary Roth

Yesterday we posted a quick round-up of the various voter-suppression schemes being pushed by Republicans in swing states around the country. And after looking at the list, one thing quickly becomes clear: most of the efforts have failed.

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There’s no one grand unifying theory for why that’s true.

In some cases, the courts have rejected GOP efforts to make voting harder:

  • In Indiana, for instance, a Superior Court judge declined to support a GOP bid to shut down early voting centers in Democratic-leaning cities in Lake County, and the state Supreme Court chose not to immediately intervene.
  • In Wisconsin, a suit brought by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — which he later admitted had been requested by the Republican Party — seeking to force the state election board to re-confirm all newly registered voters was thrown out by a county court.
  • In Michigan, a federal appeals court today blocked the Republican secretary of state, Terri Lynn Land, from throwing 5,500 newly registered voters off the rolls because their registration cards were returned as undeliverable, after voting-rights groups sued.

In other states, Democratic state officials or voting-rights advocates have held the line:

  • In Nevada, Secretary of State Ross Miller denied a request from the state GOP to require voters to cast provisional ballots if they fixed mistakes in their voting information at the polls.
  • In Colorado, a bid by Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman — who himself is running for a seat in the U.S. House — to purge 14,000 voters from the rolls was only partially successful. After voting-rights groups sued, a settlement was reached yesterday allowing the voters to cast provisional ballots. According to the Rocky Mountain News, those ballots would “be presumed to be valid unless state and county officials prove otherwise.” A lawyer for the voting-rights groups called the deal “a win-win.”

In still other places, it’s been a combination of both factors:

  • In Ohio — perhaps the most high-profile example of voter-suppression this cycle — the state GOP sued to force Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to provide local election officials with the names of new voters whose registration information didn’t match other government documents. Brunner resisted, arguing, it appears correctly, that the information would be used to challenge large numbers of voters and cause chaos at the polls. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately sided with Brunner. (The Department of Justice deserves some of the credit here, too, for declining a request by the White House to intervene.)

And in some states, the Republicans appear to have done themselves in through the sheer chutzpah of their behavior, and the resulting outcry:

  • In Montana, the state GOP announced plans to challenge 6000 voters in predominantly Democratic counties, based on discrepancies between in their listed addresses. But after even Republicans in the state denounced the ploy, the party backed off, and its executive director resigned.
  • In New Mexico, the state party held a press conference at which it released the names, and some personal information, of ten voters, almost all Hispanic, that it said had voted fraudulently in a Democratic primary in June. It was later established that they were all legitimate voters. The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating reports by TPMmuckraker and others that a lawyer attached to the party sent a private investigator to the homes of some of these voters to question them about their voting status — potentially violating federal voting laws.

Of course, that’s not to suggest that Republican suppression efforts haven’t been successful anywhere. In Florida, for instance, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, a Republican, has instructed election officials to reject voter registration applications that do not pass a computer match test. Voting-rights groups say the system can disqualify voters based on nothing more than a missing middle initial on their voter form. They fear the move could disenfranchise tens of thousands of legitimate voters. (Though even in the Sunshine State, there’s a bright spot. GOP governor Charlie Crist on Tuesday ordered extended hours for early voting centers, after long lines were reported in many parts of the state.)

Of course, the whole point of the voter-suppression game is to throw up as many gambits as possible, and hope that just a few succeed. And there’s no way to measure the effect that even the unsuccessful ploys have in generating cynicism about the process itself, and thereby reducing turnout, to Republicans’ advantage. So in a close election, it’s still possible that voter suppression could make the difference — as it may well have done in 2000.

But it’s worth noting that — thanks largely to Democratic control of the secretary of state’s offices in some key states; the skepticism with which many courts have looked on efforts to put obstacles in the way of voting; and the role of voting-rights groups and the press in exposing the bankruptcy of Republican claims — the nationwide GOP voter-suppression effort appears to have been far less successful than the party might have hoped.

Not that we expect them to drop the tactic any time soon.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/10/31-3

76 Nobel Laureates Endorse Obama for President

76 Nobel Laureates Endorse Obama for President

By: University of California, San Francisco

Oct. 31, 2008 – Two UCSF Nobel laureates have joined 74 other Nobel Prize-winning scientific colleagues in signing a letter supporting Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States.

UCSF Chancellor Mike Bishop, MD, and Stanley Prusiner, MD, director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and professor of neurology and biochemistry, signed their names as individual citizens. Their views do not necessarily represent the views of the University of California.

In the open letter to the American people, the Nobel laureates – who won the award in physiology or medicine, chemistry, or physics – say that “the country needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security and economic competitiveness.

“We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him,” the letter states.

According to the letter, the nation’s top scientists have watched Obama’s approach to these challenges with admiration.

“We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation’s competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation’s and the world’s most urgent needs.”

The Bush administration came under fire from the scientific community for decreasing federal support for research and for alleged distortion of the government’s scientific advisory process.

Last year, former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, a 1979 graduate of the UCSF School of Medicine, criticized the Bush administration for stifling scientific research.

In 2004, 48 Nobel laureates endorsed Senator John Kerry for president.

Link:

Open letter to the American people [PDF]

http://yubanet.com/usa/76-Nobel-Laureates-Endorse-Obama-for-President.php

Ron Allen Explains Endorsement of Obama

Ron Allen Explains Endorsement of Obama

October 31, 2008

To My Friends in Indian Country:

For the past 30 years, I have had the privilege to serve as the Tribal Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and for the past 25, I have served as their Executive Director. I have been committed to several of our national and regional organizations and over the years it has been by honor to serve as President and as Treasurer for the National Congress of American Indians.

Throughout all of this, I have been a member of the Republican Party. I was honored to serve as a member of John McCain’s advisory committee for Native American issues. While I remain a personal friend to John McCain, my commitment to Indian Country must guide my actions.

As a result, I will not be voting for my party’s nominee on November 4th. I have engaged in a great deal of heartfelt deliberation with respect to who would be the best leader for our nation including their platforms, campaigns, position statements and commitments. I have decided to endorse Sen. Barack Obama. I believe he does represent true, sincere and positive change for Indian Country.

I have informed the McCain campaign of my decision. I strongly believe that Sen. Obama has shown leadership and foresight on issues impacting tribal communities and an unprecedented commitment to working with tribal nations. It is truly rare that a candidate comes along who shuns the status quo and is dedicated to fundamentally changing federal Indian law and policy for the betterment of tribal communities. Sen. Obama is that candidate.

I have always been driven to do what is best for my tribe and for Indian Country. The last eight years have been a deep disappointment regarding its impact on our rights and our interests, including the decisions of the Supreme Court. President Bush has failed to act with our interests in mind, and Sen. McCain has not engaged Indian Country nor prioritized our issues within his campaign.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, has been actively engaging our community from the beginning. He respects tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, noting that our relationships must be on a “nation to nation” to basis. Those words reflect a fundamental respect for Indian Country that has been missing for the last eight years.

And we must look at what is happening throughout this great country. Our economy is in state of disarray, our international allies look at us with distrust, and we have failed to protect our environment. On issue after issue, it is clear that Barack Obama will best lead Indian Country and America, and bring us the change we all need.

Respectfully,
W. “Ron” Allen

http://reznetnews.org/blogs/tribalog/ron-allen-explains-endorsement-obama

Scandal of Six Held in Guantanamo Even After Bush Plot Claim Is Dropped

Scandal of Six Held in Guantanamo Even After Bush Plot Claim Is Dropped

No evidence that men living in Bosnia plotted attack on Sarajevo embassy

by Robert Fisk

In the dying days of the Bush administration, yet another presidential claim in the “war on terror” has been proved false by the withdrawal of the main charge against six Algerians held without trial for nearly seven years at Guantanamo prison camp.

George Bush’s assertion in his 2002 State of the Union address — the same speech in which he wrongly claimed that Saddam Hussein had tried to import aluminium tubes from Niger — was that “our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy [in Sarajevo].” Not only has the US government withdrawn that charge against the six Algerians, all of whom had taken citizenship or residence in Bosnia, but lawyers defending the Arabs — who had already been acquitted of such a plot in a Sarajevo court — have found that the US threatened to pull its troops out of the Nato peacekeeping force in Bosnia if the men were not handed over. According to testimony presented by the Bosnian Prime Minister, Alija Behman, the deputy US ambassador to Bosnia in 2001, Christopher Hoh, told him that if he did not hand the men to the Americans, “then let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

That such a threat should be made — and the international High Representative to Bosnia at the time, Wolfgang Petritsch, has also told lawyers it was — shows for the first time just how ruthless and unprincipled US foreign policy had become in Mr Bush’s “war on terror”. By withdrawing their military and diplomatic support for the Bosnian peace process, the Americans would have backed out of the Dayton accord which they themselves had negotiated. Then the Bosnian government would have lost its legitimacy and the country might have collapsed back into a civil war which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and involved mass rape as well as massacre. The people of Bosnia might then have endured “terror” on a scale far greater than the attacks of al-Qa’ida against the United States.

When the Bosnian court was preparing to release their six prisoners, Prime Minister Behman was informed that Mr Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney and the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had been personally briefed and the White House had decided that, if they were freed, US troops in the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia would seize them, using “whatever force is necessary”. So, despite a three-month investigation by the Bosnian police, their clearance and a specific demand by the Dayton-established Bosnian Human Rights Chamber that they should not be forced to leave Bosnia, US forces seized all six, shackled and blindfolded them and put them on a plane to Guantanamo.

Mustafa Idir, Mohamed Nechla, Hadj Boudella, Lakhdar Boumedienne, Belkacem Bensayah and Saber Lahmar have remained there since, the only European citizens still in Guanatanamo. Five of their wives are still waiting for them in Bosnia along with 20 of their children, two of whom their fathers have never seen. Their case will be put to a habeas corpus district court hearing in Washington next week — the six will appear in a live transmission from Guantanamo — where their lawyers will point out that another critical charge has also been withdrawn by the US government.

The administration has withdrawn evidence given by a federal prisoner, Enaam Arnaout, against Boudella — that he trained at an al-Qa’ida camp in Afghanistan — when lawyers were about to discover that the US Justice Department had said five years earlier that an FBI interview with the man was “not reliable”.

Even stranger is that the six prisoners are claimed by the US to be “enemy combatants” when — with the dropping of the embassy bomb-plot charge — there is no evidence they have ever fought US troops or planned to attack US interests anywhere in the world. Part of the case against Bensayah involved the alleged discovery of a piece of paper at his home, bearing a telephone number for an al-Qa’ida operative, Abu Zubayder. “The Bosnian police couldn’t get this number to work in Afghanistan or Pakistan,” one of the prisoners’ lawyers, Stephen Oleskey, says. “Now we believe an announcement that the paper had been discovered was made before it was ‘found’.”

Mr Oleskey says Clint Williamson, the US war crimes ambassador, met Bosnia’s Prime Minister, Nicola Spiric, this week. “There’s only one reason he makes these visits,” he said. “To negotiate the return of people in Guantanamo.” The White House may intend to save itself further embarrassment by ending the torment of six more apparently innocent young men.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/10/31

Nukenomics No Longer Add Up – Expert

Nukenomics No Longer Add Up – Expert

by Brittany Schell

WASHINGTON – Nuclear power is a risky source of energy that comes with many hidden costs, said an environmental analyst and long-time leader in the U.S. environmental movement Tuesday.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, said the “flawed economics” of nuclear power are placing unforeseen burdens on taxpayers: the costs related to the construction of nuclear plants, the disposal of nuclear waste, the decommissioning of old plants, and security in case of an accident all contribute to the price the world pays for nuclear power. Wind energy is a more economically sound option, said Brown.

The apparent cost of nuclear power is the cost of construction and fuel for nuclear plants, and this price is rising. The estimated construction cost of a nuclear reactor two years ago was between $2 and $4 billion. Now it is $7 billion, in part because of the rising cost of steel and cement, Brown said.

The price of fuel for nuclear power plants is also on the rise. Uranium now costs $60 per pound, compared to $10 at the beginning of the decade. This increase is due to the depletion of easily mined sites rich in ore, Brown said. Companies now have to dig deeper to find uranium, and the uranium content of the ore has dropped.

Continue reading

The Flawed Economics of Nuclear Power

By Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

nuclear

Over the last few years the nuclear industry has used concerns about climate change to argue for a nuclear revival. Although industry representatives may have convinced some political leaders that this is a good idea, there is little evidence of private capital investing in nuclear plants in competitive electricity markets. The reason is simple: nuclear power is uneconomical.

In an excellent recent analysis, “The Nuclear Illusion,” Amory B. Lovins and Imran Sheikh put the cost of electricity from a new nuclear power plant at 14¢ per kilowatt hour and that from a wind farm at 7¢ per kilowatt hour. This comparison includes the costs of fuel, capital, operations and maintenance, and transmission and distribution. It does not include the additional costs for nuclear of disposing of waste, insuring plants against an accident, and decommissioning the plants when they wear out. Given this huge gap, the so-called nuclear revival can succeed only by unloading these costs onto taxpayers. If all the costs of generating nuclear electricity are included in the price to consumers, nuclear power is dead in the water.

To get a sense of the costs of nuclear waste disposal, we need not look beyond the United States, which leads the world with 101,000 megawatts of nuclear-generating capacity (compared with 63,000 megawatts in second-ranked France). The United States proposes to store the radioactive waste from its 104 nuclear power reactors in the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, roughly 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The cost of this repository, originally estimated at $58 billion in 2001, climbed to $96 billion by 2008. This comes to a staggering $923 million per reactor–almost $1 billion each-assuming no further repository cost increases. (See data here

In addition to being over budget, the repository is 19 years behind schedule. Originally slated to start accepting waste in 1998, it is now set to do so in 2017, assuming it clears all remaining hurdles. This leaves nuclear waste in storage in 121 temporary facilities in 39 states–sites that are vulnerable both to leakage and to terrorist attacks.

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Indigenous Voices

Indigenous Voices

November 2nd, 2008 ·
History · LD291 · Sovereignty

If you are not aware of Indigenous Voices, a monthly talk radio show focused on Maine Native topics, check it out today. On 8/19/08, the show dialogued with Penobscot Nation Tribal Chief Kirk Francis. This interview contains a terrific overview of tribal government and its process. Chief Francis discusses the Penobscot sovereign status, a hot button issue in light of the gambling issues, environmental issues

, freedom of information, and economic self-sufficiency issues of today. He provides an overview of the tribes historical relationship with the State and addresses the July decision to “sever relations with the State,” covering many current issues thoughtfully and articulately. Students who have a background in the Land Claims Settlement will gain a greater understanding from Chief Francis, as he discusses the process and the problems. This interview is a route to introducing students to the core dichotomy between the state and its interests, and the tribe and its interests. “There is a real educational component missing [in the legislature],” Francis notes, as he quietly spells out the nature of the blinders and lack of understanding he finds in the Maine legislature.

An update to this interview can be found in Maine Sunday Telegram’s coverage of the Penobscot response to this year’s casino question #1. If you follow the link, be sure to the Comments.

Other Indigenous Voices shows (access them via the link above) include an exploration of MicMac topics with film maker Catherine Anne Martin and a discussion of important short topics, including LD 291 and the Land Claims Settlement. Here are some you might listen to:

  • As Thanksgiving approaches, you might want to listen to the 9/18/07 interview with Penobscot Elder Arnie Neptune and Charles Mann, author of 1491 (one of my favorite books).
  • Treaties are covered on 2/20/07
  • Current and future issues of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Nations and the Houlton Band of Maliseets are discussed with tribal leaders on 12/19/06.
  • Tribal Courts are discussed on 11/21/06.
  • The Land Claims Settlement is the focus on 8/15/06.

Middle and High School students would be able to listen to these audio files

and take notes independently. Social Studies teachers can address many Learning Results solely with these interviews; ELA teachers can use them to address media and speech Learning Results. Perhaps most importantly, these articulate and knowledgeable Native spokespeople can burst some stereotypes still held by many students in Maine.

Tech note: The interviews can be downloaded as .mp3 files. They can easily edited, chopped up, chunked, in GarageBand or Audacity. What a resource!

http://wabquest.edublogs.org/2008/11/02/indigenous-voices/

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